Have the requirements been clarified yet?
The short answer is “No.”
As of June 2, 2022, employers in Ontario with 25 or more employees will be required to implement a written “Right to Disconnect” policy. This requirement was included in the recently passed Bill 27, a.k.a. Working for Workers Act.
Disconnecting from work is defined in the legislation as:
“Not engaging in work-related communications, including emails, telephone calls, video calls or the sending or reviewing of other messages, so as to be free from the performance of work.”
While the legislation includes the above definition, it does not actually provide any guidance about what the policy should include. There is a statement in the law that contents of the policy may be prescribed in regulation, but no such regulations have been filed as of the date of this post.
There is no indication that this requirement will result in employers being unable to have employees “on-call” or to work irregular hours outside of the regular workday and workweek. However, what it likely does indicate is a requirement that employers will need to stick to the work hours they give their employees more closely than in the past.
Until the Ontario government says otherwise, there is no right answer about these policies right now, and we recommend that each employer consider their specific circumstances and the way their employees work.
Outside of Ontario, in France, Spain, Portugal, and elsewhere, these laws are already more developed and concrete including features such as specific cut off hours after which contact is not permitted.
None of the above makes any changes to overtime provisions or to limits on hours of work. Employees are still owed overtime after 44 hours of work, if not exempt. Interestingly, the law as it stands does not treat overtime-exempt employees differently, i.e., overtime-exempt employees are not exempt from the right to disconnect.
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